I was pretty lucky during my recent trip to Copenhagen. The day after I arrived, Mikkeller & Friends (the best damn bottle shop/bar I’ve ever had the pleasure of weeping over the stocklist in) got some ridiculously rare American beers in from Minneapolis’ Surly Brewing Co. – the masters of incredible canned craft beer. These beauts are in such short supply and are so sought-after that very few folks in the States actually have access to them – I can’t remember anywhere in Europe having them on general off-trade sale for as long as I’ve been into decent beer. Needless to say, the Beer Gods were smiling at me last week. Those bloody Beer Gods also took the best part of nine quid per can off me. Mixed blessings, eh?
Undeterred by price (holiday-mode was in full swing at that point) I picked up some cans of Surly’s highly-rated hoppy offerings to bring home with me. The only thing I regret is not bringing more cash and another suitcase.
Surly Brewing Co. Furious IPA
Furious is (as suggested by the can) a pretty ballsy little fella. It’s rare to find a 6.2% ABV India Pale Ale smacking you in the chops with more flavour than most double/triple/quadruple/whatever high-ABV ‘hop-monsters’ put together, but Surly has managed it and then some! There’s loads of really deep pine resin in the aroma, alongside harsh citric grapefruit notes, blood orange, semi-sweet caramel, and a bit of interesting woodiness. The taste absolutely belts you with bitter, oily pine resin, pithy mouth-puckering grapefruit and a load of deep, sweet caramel. It’s incredibly balanced for something so brutal. The bitterness is intense – hop oils coat the mouth completely and linger for ages alongside the residual caramel maltiness. Furious is an all-out assault. You’d be wary of it if you saw it hanging out on the street corner. It’s a beast. A delicious hoppy beast nonetheless.
Surly Brewing Co. Abrasive Ale Double IPA
This was the mother-lode. Holy Lord, Abrasive Ale is an experience. As soon as cracking the ring-pull of this 9% ABV Double IPA you know what’s coming. Amazing mango, grapefruit, pineapple, limes, light pine resin and some subtle herbiness rush towards you in the aroma – it’s heavenly. All of this full, ripe tropical fruitiness hits again in the taste, with grapefruit and juicy blood orange adding to it and taking things to more of a pithy, bitter place. There’s also some pretty oily and resinous pine notes taking you to more bitter extremes – but hang on, what’s that? Sweet tangerine and mango as well? Jesus. A bit of grassiness comes next, before the lightest bit of biscuity malt pretends to be working as a balancing-act to the hops. It doesn’t. And it doesn’t bloody need to – Abrasive is all about these wonderful fresh hops. Cracking pine and grapefruit bitterness lingers on the palate for an eternity. There’s no hint of the substantial amount of booze that’s in this. Scary. I’d drink it with my muesli.
Bad news: we can’t get this in Ireland. We probably never will.
Good news: there are now two unbelievably good reasons to go on that business trip to Minneapolis everyone is shying away from at work.